Access to Clean Water Has Reached Crisis Point Worldwide

By John Hawthorne

Water across the world in in such a short supply, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to not have it as accessible as it is in the west. We don’t take into consideration that most people across the world do not have the ability to drink clean water. Astonishingly, there’re approximately one billion people on the Earth that do not have a means of getting access to safe drinking water. Unicef estimates that 2.6 billion people do not have access to a sanitary septic system or means of using a bathroom. The damage done by not having an ability to get fresh clean water has a variety of effects.

  • Over one million people, mostly those under the age of 5, will die as a direct result of contracting a diarrheal disease that is directly attributed to drinking tainted and unclean water

  • The infection schistosomiasis affects more than 160 million people worldwide. Another 500 million people are susceptible to trachoma, which will make 160 million of those people at risk for blindness.

  • 133 million people are at risk for lesser threatening parasites — like hookworm and other forms of intestinal helminths. These are all caused by drinking unclean water.

  • Malaria, which is transmitted through mosquitoes, typically breed in stagnant water which will cause the deaths of over one million children every year. There are estimates that put the global infection rate of between 300-500 million people. 

  • Another water borne bacteria is Typhoid, which causes a variety of symptoms, and will infect approximately 12 million people every year. The typical cause is drinking water filled with the bacteria.

Populations in trouble

The largest populations affected by unsafe water are all in sub saharan Africa. Here is a list of the top 5 regions in trouble that carry the highest populations.

According to Business Connect World:

Sub Saharan Africa – 319 million people
Southern Asia – 134 million people
Eastern Asia – 65 million people
South Eastern Asia – 61 million people
All other regions – 84 million people


Other hard hit countries like Afghanistan, only have about 13% of the population who have access to clean water. In countries such as this, water is a scarce resource, however, it’s political turmoil and war that has prevented a proper infrastructure from being developed.


In Ethiopia, only 11% of the population has access to clean water. As a result, the country has a staggering infant mortality rate of 77 per 1000 births. The long distance to water sources makes it even harder and more dangerous for the women, whose job it typically is to collect water.


Approximately 84% of the population in Cambodia does not have access to clear water or sanitation. Despite the fact that there is plenty of fresh rainfall, it’s not properly stored and often becomes quickly contaminated due to ,poor infrastructure in the country. There have been efforts by the locals, and from NGO’s, to devise ways of collecting rain water. However, without the proper technology involved, the country will continue to suffer from a clean water shortage.


Twenty percent of the population does not have adequate sanitation or toilet facilities. Fifty percent of the population do not have access to clean water. The recent earthquake —as well as soil erosion and lack of water treatment — further set back efforts to bring safe water to the country.

In the end, people in these countries do not have a means of getting fresh water, where they do not have a choice but to continue to drink unsafe water. Clean water should be a universal right for all of the earth's population. As it stands now, it's only a distant dream.

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